The level of buzz around e-bikes in advocacy and policy circles in Oregon right now is off the charts. Specifically, there’s a ton of momentum around the idea of creating a financial incentive for people who need help buying one. At a meeting of e-bike advocates this morning that enthusiasm was on full display.
Help Oregon broaden access to e-bikes. Donate to a PSU-led research project via this form (hosted by The Street Trust).
As we’ve reported, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that some type of e-bike purchase incentive bill will be introduced in the Oregon Legislature in 2023. But what type of incentive would work best? If lawmakers get behind a bill that leads to an e-bike subsidy, what should the amount be?
When this topic came up at a meeting of the E-Bikes For All Working Group (convened by Forth) this morning, Portland State University researcher and nationally renown e-bike expert John MacArthur said he and his team are actively trying to answer that question. MacArthur has already garnered attention for his work tracking the dozens of e-bike incentive programs that exist around the country. A white paper to summarize that work will come out next month.
But as the e-bike revolution grows and larger cities look to hop on the bandwagon, the incentive discussion is maturing along with it (California is leading the way with a $10 million e-bike subsidy program set to launch later this summer). Cameron Bennett, a PSU grad student who works with MacArthur, said most cities offer a subsidy between $100-$400, but, “Our inclination is that that’s way off of what’s actually going to change minds.” He thinks it will take $1,000 or more to push people over the edge, especially folks in lower-income brackets who need it most.
To better inform how to structure incentive programs, MacArthur is working on national survey to find out how much money it will take to entice buyers. But since all politics is local, before they support an e-bike incentive for Oregon, legislators have told him they want to hear directly from Oregonians. At this morning’s meeting MacArthur said he’d love to do an Oregon-specific survey, but he doesn’t have the funding to pull it off.
In order to convene a panel of Oregonians and conduct a scientifically valid preference survey, MacArthur said he needs a minimum of $2,500 (more money would net more panelists, more data, and more credibility for the survey). And given the details of his current research contract, there’s only a short window of time to do the work.
That’s when another person at the meeting, The Street Trust Executive Director Sarah Iannarone, chimed in. She asked the group if they would feel comfortable “passing the hat” to get this money raised ASAP so MacArthur and his team could get started.
One person spoke immediately and said they’d pledge $100 if nine others matched them. The chat suddenly filled with several more pledges and the tally was soon close to $1,000 in a matter of minutes! The support illustrates the intense interest among bike advocates and EV leaders to promote electric bikes.
A few minutes later, Iannarone had set up an online form she said would direct donations to this project.
If you think e-bikes have potential to help improve the lives of Oregonians and make our state a better place, please consider dropping a few bucks into the hat to make this vital piece of research into a reality.
Huge props to Iannarone at The Street Trust for taking action on this so quickly. Here’s that donation link again.
And before you say it in the comments, I agree it’s sad we have to do bake sales for stuff like this while there’s so much money splashing around electric car projects at the moment. But we can either complain about that and continue to get left at the curb, or we can do some work and move forward together.